Friday, January 16, 2009

So Farewell Then... George W. Bush

The list of lasts for George W. Bush is diminishing steadily and we are now down to four days before he leaves office.

His final press conference was of a piece with his conduct in office- no regrets and no explanations. However in in his valedictory he continues to demonstrate just how unfit a President he has been.

His comment on upholding the moral authority of the United States was surely designed to do no more than raise a cynical laugh: this was after all the President who presided over Abu Graib and Guantanamo, who prosecuted an illegal war and who- more than any single one of his predecessors- governed in a politicised and highly partisan manner.

I notice Andrew Roberts has written that he believes that George W. Bush was a "Good President". Frankly it seems to me that this is just another of journalistic contrariness: taking a position in order to make the story.

The fact is that, at home just as much as abroad, the popularity of this President could not be lower. His policy mis-steps, on the "War on Terror", on Iraq, on the Economy, have left the United States massively weaker: in hock to its strategic enemies and reviled for its arrogance and perhaps paradoxically for its weakness.

The Bushies were a narrow and exclusive group of like minded individuals whose approach to policy was the opposite of intellectual: it was faith based position taking and the consequence of this was a failure to deconstruct their failures until it was already too late. Instead of listening to the widest views, the Bushies talked only to the hard line right wing ideologues of the neo-Conservatives and in the end they made both the Administration and the Republican Party into prisoners of the extreme religious right.

Barack Obama inherits a legacy of division and of failure. The economic crisis he faces will brook no delay. Yet the scale of the problems are so large and the potential for politicking so tempting that it is hard to see how the American Constitution will be able to deliver effective decision making between the different branches of government, even if Obama has the right policies (and it is not clear that he has). "No drama" Obama will need every ounce of his legendary patience to get even the smallest changes underway.

Nevertheless on January 20th we can at least breathe a sigh of relief that at least George W. Bush is no more. Whatever the future brings we can, for a brief instant at least, hope that the 44th President will repair the vile legacy of the 43rd.


Newmania said...

I don't agree here ,I am not a fan of Bush especially but I am quite certain the universal and easy abuse is misplaced or at least overdone
To me it seems quite quite obvious that it could have been a lot worse.
I have written in his defence on Liberal Con and posted on my blog ( a rare event )

Newmania said...

AA said...

I agree with you Newmania

I especially like your line about Bush, ...and is infinitely the intellectual superior of his childish detractors.

My main beef with Bush is that he seemed to go a bit soft in his last term. There should have been more of an effort to capture/kill the enemy leadership, development of more new weapons like the killer drones and a few more spectacular victories/defeats. The wars that are looked back upon with nostalgia always have these three crucial elements.

The enemy have been difficult though, always calling for jihad, jihad and as soon as anyone gives them jihad like Isreal is now in Gaza they're crying for mercy like a bunch of weeping schoolgirls.... and people like Cicero start feeling sorry for them and start complaining about Abu Graib and Guantanamo with nary a word about how Hamas, Hezbullah and the Taliban treat their prisoners.

Cicero said...

I think you are both dead wrong. The "whataboutism" concerning Hamas, Hizbullah is particularly stupid: OF COURSE we are better than them but that means we must always behave better than them. I think Gitmo and Abu Graib are utterly criminal because they undermine the self evident moral superiority of Western Democracy over Islamo-Fascist death cults.

AA said...

Conditions at Gitmo and Abu Graib do not equate to stooping to the level of the enemy. The Red Cross has access to prisoners held in American facilities while the enemy routinely torture their prisoners to death. Yet it’s not actually “whataboutism” in the sense of, ‘they do it so why can’t we?’ It’s that too many people patronisingly hold others to a lower standard to what we now consider to be basic humanity thus condoning evil. It’s more “whataboutism” in the sense of, ‘if you accuse us of war crimes why do you never accuse them of war crimes?’

So with this behaving better than them thing would you seriously suggest, as an example, that Gaza’s deliberate bombardment of Israeli civilians is not a war crime yet it would be if Israelis just randomly dropped bombs on Gaza?

I propose that all crimes of violence should be investigated and their perpetrators punished regardless of the standards they or others set for them. The UN should be calling for the arrest and trial of the Hamas leadership instead of just demanding that everyone stop the violence. What we see today is real stupidity, not punishing people for acts of violence but rewarding them for stopping the violence – a recipe for endless violence.

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